Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why I Wear Pants: An Anthropological Study of Myself

As a little girl my mother dolled me up in the most adorable dresses from the best department stores in NYC and the Dominican Republic. I can't say that I ever minded- I look back on those days and don't remember ever pitching a fit about my clothes (except for my school uniform but that was different. NO ONE likes catholic school uniforms except maybe dirty old men!).

Maybe it was because we were taught to just blindly obey our elders OR because my mom had pretty good taste in clothes; can't be sure. Whatever the case, if you look through our family photo albums nine times out of ten you will find me in a dress.

Somewhere along the way that changed.

Once the glorious day came when I was allowed to FINALLY attend public school, what did I want more than anything in the world as we went school-clothes shopping? Jeans!! The more basic the better. And T-shirts. And sweaters. All different colors and patterns. As long as it wasn't a dress.

I carried this mentality with me into my hippie-grunge-treehugger college years, when I was known for my over-sized flannel shirts, overalls, Vans and hemp shoes. My wardrobe was all about comfort and relaxation and PANTS. When I started looking for work after college my mom gave me a couple of skirt suits and I hated them, and made a conscious choice to only seek non-corporate positions that would let me wear pants. And that I did! I bought slacks and khakis in all manner of fabrics and colors and was in pants heaven.

After reading Bangs and a Bun's blog post on American vs European fashion sense, I really started to wonder what is my aversion to wearing dresses and skirts on a regular day? And you guys know when I start to obsess about an idea I OBSESS! I started looking through my closet for signs that I was more open-minded with my wardrobe. I looked at old photos. I even looked at the clothes I buy my daughters and it all zeroed in on one point: I'm biased against dresses and skirts, and I may have made my children biased, too.

Here's my expert scientific finding on my fashion behavior. With pants or jeans, I'm not required to adhere to any traditional female behaviors. I can sit any way I want without fear that my undies will be exposed, I don't fear a gust of wind and I can NEVER buy another pair of nylons EVER again. I can also steer clear of high-heeled shoes, which are the usual accompaniment to a dress or a skirt (flats just look WRONG). And if I don't have to wear high heels I can walk faster, run faster, take the stairs two at a time and, let's be real here, save my knees and my back and my feet loads of injuries.

In a pair of pants I honestly do feel equal with a man. Think about it- a man and woman are walking side by side. He's wearing his comfortable pants and Oxfords or whatever, but she's in a pencil skirt and 3" heels. He's able to take bigger strides, admire the beauty in the streets around him and still look sharp while being at ease. Meanwhile, the poor woman can only take half strides because the pencil skirt only allows for baby steps, and she has to be Uber-aware of a possible rip in her nylons and subway and/or sewer grates that will kill her shoes, not to mention the discomfort she has had to train herself to ignore that comes with the unnatural way she has to walk in 3" heels.

You tell me- what's attractive about that? Why don't MORE women just join me in the Blue Jeans Party?

I will admit that a dress looks nice on me. And if I need an ego boost I just have to walk through the city in one and a pair of heels. But that's just it- I've always had a problem with being judged on looks, partly because I'm self-conscious about mine and partly because I know they will fade, so I'd rather be judged (if at all) on non-physical attributes. That sort of vanity, while fine for others, is just not my cup of tea. Don't look at me. Don't holla at me in the street. Don't tell me I have nice legs. GO AWAY!

Unfortunately for me the Universe thought it would be a HOOT to bestow upon me certain endowments that will not allow for blending in the crowd but goddammit if I don't give it the good old-fashioned college try! And part of that effort includes making my wardrobe as gender-neutral as I can. Which means: I wear pants.

The End.

*smooches...with tomorrow's pants already pressed and laid out*
the only time I actually voluntarily wear a dress is when it's really hot outside, and that's just for practical reasons, not because of any fashion sense on my part.